A Great Way to Clean Up Your Photos

Taking a SelfieTaking a Selfie

Earlier this year, I discovered a great way to clean up my digital photos. It has been working great, and I wanted to share it. This idea is not original to me, but I don’t know who actually came up with it.

Why clean up Your Photos in the first place?

I have had an iCloud account since about the time it was introduced in 2011. I love the way it syncs all of my photos to all of my devices. If you are an Android user, you may feel the same way about Google Photos because it does the same thing. But there are two problems with this. First, neither your device storage nor your cloud storage is unlimited. If your cloud storage fills up, you can either delete some of your data or pay for more. But if your device data fills up, it can practically brick your phone. The device slows down to a crawl, you may lose the ability to open apps, and restarting does not resolve the problem. Even worse, you may not be able to clear the contents off your device because there is not enough room to move things to the trash before permanently deleting them.

So it’s a good idea to periodically look through your devices and see what data you no longer need. Deleting old messages and apps is good, but one of the things that takes up the most space is photos, especially with newer devices that can take hi-res images. But many people never go through and delete old photos because it can be a daunting task. Currently, on my phone, I have 7,899 photos and 324 videos. That’s a lot, but I know people who have 2–3 times that! No one wants to sit there and comb through all that data to separate the precious memories from the junk.

So, what’s the secret?

Glad you asked! Here are the steps to make this relatively quick and painless.

  1. In your photos’ app (iPhone or Android), click on the search tab.
  2. In the search box, type in the month and the date, without a year. An example of this would be May 15. This will show you all the photos you have taken on that date through the years. Sometimes it also shows you photos with text that matches the date, like the word may” or the number 15,” but it’s normally only one or two.
  3. Scroll through the pictures and delete any you don’t want. I often find pictures of food I posted online (yeah, I used to do that), or signs or flyers that I took pictures of to remember them for the near future, or blurry pictures of my kids, or duplicates. Anything that does not bring you joy or invokes a fond memory you can probably delete, but it’s up to you.

And that’s it! This process is not a quick fix,” but if you have years of accumulated data, there isn’t one. The good news is that it only takes about 5 minutes a day (at least with the number of pictures I have), and every picture you delete recovers some data, which is the goal.

Added bonuses to cleaning your photos

In addition to recovering some of your data, there are two other benefits to completing this process every day. First, it will make it easier to find the good pictures in your collection because you have less to look through.

Second (and I think even more importantly), it gets you looking through your photos and finding ones that you have not seen for years, or that you may have even forgotten about. Almost every time I do this, I see pictures of my kids that I completely forgot about, and it brings great joy to relive those memories.

And if you miss a day, you can always go back and put that date in another time, or just wait until next year and do it then. So don’t beat yourself up for not doing it!

So that’s my trick for trimming down my photos and reliving old memories. If you try it out, please let me know in the comments how it works for you.


December 2, 2023